The Rights of Animals in the Legislature

Attorney Idan Abuhav presents a survey of bills for the rights of animals

The 17th Knesset was friendly to activists for animal rights. Many members of the Knesset worked on various battles whose goals were to subsidize neutering and castration of dogs and cats—which was made into law and became an agreement between the Ministries of the Treasury and Agriculture. Many bills that did not become law in the previous session are coming up again for a vote, and in addition a number of Knesset members presented important bills for the welfare of animals. Attorney Idan Abuhav, who is responsible for matters of legislation in the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel, wishes to present for your attention some of the important bills that he intends to promote. Abuhav: “It is important to say that despite the fact that there is much more to do in this matter, Israel is considered an advanced country in the matter of animal rights. Many members of Knesset work with us, and even their children pressure them, more than once, to support bills caring for animals”.

Eitan Cabel (Preventing the enslavement of horses and donkeys)
In the streets of Israeli cities we frequently see sad and skinny horses pulling carts, sometimes overloaded, between the lines of cars. Most of these animals are suffering from severe wounds, violence and even starvation. They are in constant tension stemming from difficult treading between noisy cars that goad them on, and most of them do not belong to the breed that is meant for hard work. Simply, they are horses bought by the wrong people. The Secretary General of the Labor Party, Knesset Member Eitan Cabel, presented an excellent bill, which is meant to stop situations described above by means of a total prohibition, the sanctions on its violation being a high monetary fine. We believe that a confiscation of the horse and wagon should be weighed, since most of the wagon-drivers cannot pay such a fine. The legislation for animals should be made with consideration for people who would be limited by it, and therefore we will act for a change in the punishment.

Gideon Sa’ar (Cosmetics)
The bill of the Minister of Education, Gideon Sa’ar, passed only in pre-vote, and therefore there is a need to start to promote it from the beginning. We are speaking about an excellent bill, which would forbid importing of cosmetic products (not intended for purposes concerning health), and cleaning products, where the production of such involves experiments on animals. This bill would put Israel on the front line of countries whose legislatures have decided to prevent the sale of cosmetic products, under the understanding that there is no moral or scientific reason for the continuation of experiments upon animals in the manufacture of products whose use is only ornamentation.
As stated, the bill has to be promoted from the beginning. Attorney Idan Abuhav says that, “At the moment we are trying to find a Knesset member who will adopt the bill, or to recruit the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor for the matter. It will not be easy to get it passed, and it has quite a few implications, but we do believe that the world-wide legislative effort and the existing legislation will help us to form a base for success in this area”.

Prevention of trade in furs
In the wake of an investigation that was made by Elad Aboav, spokesman of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel, together with the Israeli television network News Channel 10, it turns out that clothing items, which had labels with misleading information attached to it, contained animal-fur and were sold in Israel. The misleading information was that the parts that later on were determined to be from animals, were described on the labels as being synthetic. The report has made many waves, and with its airing the Minister of Agriculture turned to us by means of his spokesperson, Tali Carmi, and asked that we prepare a bill that will prevent the continuation of the situation described above.
We were pleased to see that other members of the Knesset “jumped on the wagon” and presented bills of their own. We hope that the honorable Minister Shalom Simhon will promote the bill in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.The bills are revolutionary and so there will be many difficulties in the process of legislation. Today it is possible to see the beginnings of a resistance throughout the world, but in fact this is a huge industry that exists throughout the Western World together with industries in the Far East. From this we can see that Israel could be a light unto the Nations and lead the struggle.

Ronit Tirosh
Knesset Member Ronit Tirosh is a brave friend of animals in the Knesset. In the previous session she had a law passed, together with the Minister for the Environment, Gilad Erdan; a law that deals with neutering and castration. The present bill is intended to forbid the import of fur from the Far East, because in those countries there exists a large industry of dog and cat fur, which is considered cheaper than synthetic fur.
The advantage of the bill is that it is very clever and does not challenge the whole fur industry, but rather deals only with the narrow area of the industry to which there seems to be a public consensus—the fur of dogs and cats. The bill offers a criminal punishment for anyone found to violate the law. Together with that, is import of other furs from the west appropriate? Is it worthwhile to forgo the struggle against this type of import?
We have to remember that eastern exporters can fake tags and bring the merchandize through a third country, and so actually hide the import of furs from the east this way. The bill needs an addition in the way of means of preventing the counterfeiting of the source of the import.

Nitzan Horowitz and Ilan Ghilon
Members of Knesset Horowitz and Ghilon are new players in the field of animal rights. Their bill is wider and relates to a total ban of importation or trade in furs in the State of Israel in general. The bill also relates to anyone who uses synthetic fur, and obligates him to have a permit for each item that includes synthetic fur. The bill would put criminal sanctions on those who violate the prohibition, including the confiscation of fur from the company.
Horowitz and Ghilon are not apathetic about the need for research, and therefore they include the ability to grant a certification to deal in fur for researchers. Similarly the prohibition of dealing in furs does not include fur that is obtained from animals whose flesh is used for food. This bill also includes criminal sanctions and even suggests confiscating fur that is found in Israel.

Dov Chanin
The bill of Knesset Member Chanin forbids the importation of fur of pets, including dogs, cats, weasels, rabbits, conies and guinea pigs, and also a prohibition of commerce and of advertising anything about the sale of these animals. The bill has ex-territorial implications, that is to say that it places responsibility on every Israeli citizen even outside of Israel. The bill provides the possibility of criminal sanctions against anyone who violates the law, and provides organizations for animal rights the ability to present a criminal accusation in case the authorities will stop activating the criminal sanctions.

Assembly line cages
Despite the large support for animals, there is a painful issue that the Israeli Knesset still does not find appropriate to deal with, and this is the assembly-line cages that do not allow hens room to move, prevent any environmental stimulus from them, cause them pain and injury and do not allow them to express natural behaviors such as spreading their wings, rolling about in the sand and burrowing into the earth.
After pressure from animal rights organizations, the European Union obligated a number of improvements for the welfare of the hens in the standard assembly-line cages, including the enlargement of the area of the cage, and the enrichment of their environment. In Switzerland and Austria it was decided to forbid the growing of hen in cages completely.
In the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel, Tel Aviv-Yafo, we hope that the lawmakers will implement the law of the European Union and instead of encouraging the assembly-line cages, will forbid the sale of eggs that are ‘produced’ in the assembly-line cages.